A quick update on sleep, writing, and volunteering

So, I’m not getting much sleep again. Anywhere from 3-5 hours. A lot of mentally ill people have trouble sleeping. But this not sleeping streak has been going on for over a month now, and I’m pretty sure it’s not healthy. For people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, not sleeping isn’t good and could trigger a manic episode. Idk if I’m manic or just being super creative. I don’t feel manic. I’m not exhibiting rapid, pressured speech, and an exceptionally high mood. But I’ve been more active than usual, thinking too much, and being real project-oriented. It could be because Election 2016 has fired me up. Or it could be because I started taking an antidepressant, Abilify, which has an activating effect. Or it could just be that I needed some changes in my life. Whatever the case, I’m writing, playing WoW, being less irritated with my parents, socializing irl, updating my book blog, and blogging here. I even started to revise my MFA thesis into something publishable. I haven’t worked on it in about ten years! I hope with this attempt I finally finish revising it.

One of my activities this month include the women’s volunteer group meeting I attended. My friend had asked me to do the Inspiration, which could be a quote, a prayer, an inspiring anecdote, anything that inspired you to volunteer. So, I read a couple paragraphs from Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir of “moods and madness,” An Unquiet Mind. I talked about how Jamison realized when writing her book that love, not only Lithium, saved her, and how volunteering is a way I can save myself. Because volunteering, giving, is a form of love. And it also shows that I’m capable of self-love, which is pretty much essential if you want to survive your mental illness. By wanting to save myself it shows that I like and value myself enough to believe that my life is worth living. For my volunteer service this month I did a couple hours repainting a room at a transitional housing center for the homeless.

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Because there’s no shame in being mentally ill

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, #2016 yet again snuffed out another bright star in the galaxy, but for many fans Carrie Fisher will live on in their own light. I will remember Carrie Fisher not only as the fierce, heroic Princess Leia in Star Wars, but also as a mental health advocate who spoke about her battle with Bipolar Disorder. I can tell you many of my mentally ill friends looked up to her and admired her, because she was one of us.

Fisher has been unusually outspoken for years about her mental health battles, something many fans mourned when Fisher died at age 60 on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack several days earlier on an airplane. The actress talked candidly about bipolar disorder and her treatments and how they affected her life. She acknowledged there was still a stigma when talking about mental health, but she wanted to help fight it.

“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on,” Fisher told ABC News.

Source: Carrie Fisher, the inspiring mental health advocate: ‘I am mentally ill. . . . I am not ashamed of that’

My story is a little different. Though I am no longer ashamed about being diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and having been hospitalized multiple times, I have felt shame and embarrassment about being so ill and disabled. I dislike feeling vulnerable and weak, and I also felt guilty and unworthy of sympathy. I was living in the Bay Area when I was first hospitalized, I was no longer able to work, and I soon ran out of money to pay for my health insurance and treatment. I didn’t want to go home so I borrowed money from my parents.
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This Christmas, Somebody to Love

oyster_wine-3This Christmas George Michael passed away. As if 2016 couldn’t get any worse. I was having dinner at Larsen’s Grill with my parents, brother and his wife, three aunties, and one uncle. We had just finished our appetizers. I had an oyster with a glass of Cabernet. Then, I hopped onto Facebook to see what was up. That’s how I found out. My brother couldn’t believe it either. He asked me if it was fake news. But it was all over Twitter, and I was able to find solid reporting on it. How tremendously sad. I grew up listening to George Michael.

What a crazy year this has been. There’s been good times with family and friends, positives in my life, which have balanced my depression. AND my parents are getting me a puppy, which I’ll get to take home in February. But even with all my blessings in life it hasn’t been enough lately. I’ve been having trouble sleeping and crying a lot since the election, so my psychiatrist started me on a new antidepressant, Abilify, which is actually classified as an anti-psychotic but is FDA-approved to treat bipolar depression. He thinks that I’m feeling more depressed now because I’m realizing that I need more in life. He said that I’m too smart to be as isolated as I am now. That what I have now is not enough for me anymore. I think he’s right. I am missing human connection. I feel like I deserve so much more and so much better. I want to be in love, to love and be loved.

I want somebody to love.

Celebrate George Michael with me.

Volunteering

After the election, I decided to do something to make me feel better and more empowered. I felt that I had failed because the wrong person won the election and as a result a lot of people will suffer. I felt that I had to do more, to take action in my own way that will make America better. Hillary said not to give up the fight and get involved in the community, that America is good because we are stronger together.

So, I joined a women’s club that does volunteer work in the community. I heard about it from my friend, who is the president of the club and involved in many community organizations in town. So far, I’ve only attended two meetings and done one service event. It’s truly been a learning experience. I hope to become more involved and do a service event once a week. On Thursday I spent a couple hours wrapping gifts that are going to homeless families.

gnowithcharHere’s a selfie with my friend who has been encouraging me to go out more and get involved. She’s a wonderful, positive, super social, compassionate, self-reliant, and strong woman, and I’m grateful to have her in my life. A couple Saturdays ago, I was supposed to help out with a tree building made out of canned food for a FoodShare, but by the time I got there they had already built the tree (because I was late!). So my friend decided to take me along with her plans that day. She was on a mission to keep me out of the house for as long as she could. At the end of the night, she bought me a glass of wine at a bar in downtown. I have developed a liking for Cabernet. It was one of the best days in my life this year.
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Am I resilient?

Last week I told my therapist that since the election I’ve felt helpless, powerless, and hopeless. When Hillary lost, I felt so sad, it really was like someone had died, and our hopes and dreams died with them. I felt like I hadn’t done enough to fight the tyranny of Donal Trump. I told my therapist that every morning I woke up thinking about my problems. Her advice to me was to think about the good things about me or the things I like about myself, and to think about the things I’m grateful for.

Well, today I’m grateful for my friends who answer my text messages and phone calls, chat with me on Facebook, and return my emails, and my generous friend who took me out last Saturday and bought me a glass of wine, who made me feel normal, who took me out of the house, out of a place that too often feels unsafe and oppressive. I’m grateful for the people who see me as a good writer and the one or two who look up to me as someone they can learn from, who can help them be better writers, and those who value my feedback. I’m grateful to those who actually listen to me and care about what I have to say.
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“Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” – HRC

*Copy of email below containing text of Hillary’s speech*

Katinka —

Thank you.

Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.

This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.

But I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign that we built together –- this vast, diverse, creative, unruly, energized campaign. You represent the best of America, and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life.

I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love — and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.

We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America –- and I always will. And if you do, too, then we must accept this result -– and then look to the future.

Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.

Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things –- the rule of law, the principle that we’re all equal in rights and dignity, and the freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these things too — and we must defend them.

And let me add: Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear: making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top; protecting our country and protecting our planet; and breaking down all the barriers that hold anyone back from achieving their dreams.

We’ve spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American Dream is big enough for everyone — for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities.

Our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.

I am so grateful to stand with all of you.

I want to thank Tim Kaine and Anne Holton for being our partners on this journey. It gives me great hope and comfort to know that Tim will remain on the front-lines of our democracy, representing Virginia in the Senate.

To Barack and Michelle Obama: Our country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for your graceful, determined leadership, and so do I.

To Bill, Chelsea, Marc, Charlotte, Aidan, our brothers, and our entire family, my love for you means more than I can ever express.

You crisscrossed this country on my behalf and lifted me up when I needed it most –- even four-month old Aidan traveling with his mom.

I will always be grateful to the creative, talented, dedicated men and women at our headquarters in Brooklyn and across our country who poured their hearts into this campaign. For you veterans, this was a campaign after a campaign — for some of you, this was your first campaign ever. I want each of you to know that you were the best campaign anyone has had.

To all the volunteers, community leaders, activists, and union organizers who knocked on doors, talked to neighbors, posted on Facebook – even in secret or in private: Thank you.

To everyone who sent in contributions as small as $5 and kept us going, thank you.

And to all the young people in particular, I want you to hear this. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks -– sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your careers. You will have successes and setbacks, too.

This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.

To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.

I know that we still have not shattered that highest glass ceiling. But some day someone will -– hopefully sooner than we might think right now.
And to all the little girls watching right now, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.

Finally, I am grateful to our country for all it has given me.

I count my blessings every day that I am an American. And I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together, with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation -– our best days are still ahead of us.

You know I believe we are stronger together and will go forward together. And you should never be sorry that you fought for that.

Scripture tells us: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

My friends, let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.

I am incredibly honored and grateful to have had this chance to represent all of you in this consequential election. May God bless you and god bless the United States of America.

Hillary

The Past Five Days

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my psychiatrist (who recently came back from visiting the Philippines, we talked about Duterte a little but mostly he complained about the smog and pollution). Anyway, he asked me if I knew about the website fivethirtyeight.com, which of course I have and which I refresh throughout the day. (I also compare 538 averages with Real Clear Politics.) My psychiatrist’s conclusion: Trump is toast. Meanwhile, no med changes for me, is good.

Personally, I think my main problem is my chronic neck and shoulder pain. It never goes away. Even if I take a break from the computer, it’s still there. It’s a constant companion and it bothers me. I wish I didn’t have all these problems in life. Things could be worse, right?

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